Cricket losing its charm, sponsors bat big time for hockey, football, says GroupM ESP report

15 Apr,2015

By Pritha Mitra Dasgupta & Ravi Teja Sharma


Cricket, which has ruled the hearts of millions of Indians for years, may be losing just a little bit of its magic. In 2014, other sports — football, tennis, hockey and even kabaddi — gained in popularity, according to a report by GroupM ESP, the entertainment, sports and content arm of media agency GroupM.


Value of ground sponsorship for cricket fell to Rs 464.7 crore in 2014 from Rs 508.3 crore in 2013 while team sponsorship fell from Rs 389.2 crore in 2013 to Rs 347.8 crore, even as the sports industry grew 10 per cent.


Ground sponsorship is the money central sponsors in any sport pay to the organisers of a tournament. Team sponsorship is the money each team earns from selling the real estate on its apparel. The report compares calendar years. The 10 per cent growth in the sports industry, from Rs 4,372.5 crore in calendar year 2013 to Rs 4,809.69 crore in 2014, is due to the emergence of new tournaments.


Indian Super League for football, two tournaments each for hockey and kabaddi as well as the International Premier Tennis League, among others. The size of the sports industry by revenue includes a number of components: ground and team sponsorships, franchise fees, endorsements and on-air revenues of advertisers.


For cricket, the numbers seem low in 2014 because India played host to fewer international games than in the previous year, says Vinit Karnik, national director (sports and live events) at GroupM ESP. “But it is a fact that there was a price correction in the payouts to BCCI from title rights holders in 2014.”


The Indian cricket team’s sponsorship price dipped to Rs 2 crore per match in 2014, the amount Star agreed to pay, from Rs 3.33 crore per match in 2013 that Airtel was paying. The downward trajectory in the level of interest in cricket can be gauged by the fact that only two companies — Star and Micromax — showed interest in obtaining title rights compared with the last bidding cycle when over 10 contenders were in the fray.


Other sports are starting to attract serious money. Football, for instance, saw a 227 per cent year-on-year increase in the total value of team sponsorship from Rs 26.5 crore in 2013 to Rs 60.3 crore on the back of the new Rupert Murdoch and Mukesh Ambani-backed Indian Super League. Other sports leagues — kabaddi, tennis and others — saw a massive jump of 1,064 per cent in team sponsorship, from just Rs 7 crore in 2013 to Rs 74.5 crore in 2014.


GroupM ESP says in the report that overall team sponsorship across all sports rose a healthy 14 per cent from Rs 432.7 crore in 2013 to Rs 493.6 crore in 2014, despite the 10.6 per cent fall in cricket team sponsorship. And while noncricket sports together accounted for just 10 per cent of the team sponsorship pie in 2013, it has now risen significantly to just under 30 per cent, a startling shift in the course of a year.



IPL, the Twenty20 cricket tournament, still remains a strong franchise with Pepsi committing Rs 80 crore a year to bag the title sponsorship of the league, despite the controversies it has sometimes seen. After a dip in revenues in 2014 because of the Lok Sabha elections and the consequent shifting of a part of the league to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), IPL’s broadcaster Multi Screen Media is expected to make close to Rs 950 crore from the ongoing 2015 edition.


While Pepsi might have grown on the back of non-cricket sports properties globally, here in India, it is one of the biggest spenders on cricket.


Ruchira Jaitly, senior director-marketing (beverages) at PepsiCo India, contends that cricket hasn’t taken any hit. “It’s just that the pool has expanded because of the emergence of other sports in India,” she says. However, as other sports gain in popularity, Pepsi is seriously investing in kabaddi, soccer and hockey. “This is also because international quality of programming has arrived in India,” Jaitly says.


“While cricket continues to be the mother ship, and will continue to be big, brands are slowly opening up to the potential of other sports, especially brands that don’t have massive budgets,” says Indranil Das Blah, CEO of sports management firm Kwan.


For big brands with national campaign plans, cricket and Bollywood are still the preferred platforms, he says, but for smaller brands one can use that money a lot more intelligently by associating with other sports. However, in terms of numbers or reach, no other sport will even come close to cricket in the next five years.


“But the bridge is certainly forming. Five years ago, there were no options, three years ago there were a few options but now there are loads of options. So that gap is slowing being reduced between cricket and other sports,” he says.


Source:The Economic Times

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